THE devastation caused by two natural disasters failed to deter arrival of tourists into the country, says Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
He said the two floods and the tropical cyclone last year failed to dampen the tourism industry as evident in the arrival numbers.
"I'm pleased and relieved to report that visitor numbers stayed remarkably buoyant," said Commodore Bainimarama in his official address at the AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards in Nadi last Friday night.
"In fact, we hit a new record. Under adverse circumstances, this is a remarkable vote of confidence in Fiji," he said.
"I have no doubt that this owes something to hearty bula and warm smile our visitors are greeted with — the concept behind our new Fijian Hosts program at Nadi International Airport — and the remarkable hospitality they experience throughout the rest of their trip."
Commodore Bainimarama said the total arrivals up to November last year were up 4.9 per cent over the previous year.
"Some 606,000 in 2012 compared to 578,000, an increase of 28,000. And that is not even counting December figures. I am certain that you share my pride, my gratitude and relief at the way our nation faced these natural disasters," he said.
"We know that you all have been working around the clock to restore the damage to your properties.
"I am happy that government was able to provide assistance to many of you, including cleanup troops from the RFMF.
"It was a team effort to get this vital sector of our economy back on its feet and we can all be proud of the result," he added. Commodore Bainimarama said in the 2013 Budget, the government had made a massive investment in infrastructure, especially to the roads.
"Our visitors as well as every Fijian will benefit from this because the state of our roads has been one of the biggest impediments to economic growth," he said.